• Fooloso4
    995
    First, Trump has definitely proven that he imagines what sounds best and then jumps to just saying that, regardless of whether it makes any sense or is in consistent with what he's being saying so far.boethius

    I agree. I do not think that his decision had anything to do with what he said. I was poking holes in his claims not trying to explain his decision in terms of them. I am sure that an analysis of causalities is something done at the beginning and was discussed early on, not something that no one considered until Trump brought it up at the last minute.

    However, that there might be a connection to the congress vote to block the Saudi Arabia arms deal is way over complicating things. Trump can veto this legislation ...boethius

    As I said, I don't think that explanation matches up with the timeline. I do think that in general he is very concerned with maintaining the appearance of a united front though.

    Also, other theories like "sending Iran a threatening message" by attacking and the cancelling are also over complicating things. That's not how you send that kind of message.boethius

    Trump does things his own way, and that includes the messages he sends. I do not think that whatever messages he might be sending are intended only for Iran but to the American voters as well. The thing is though that if he did intend to send a message it is not at all clear what that message is.

    If they really do know that the drone was in Iran airspace and that was the reason, then they would say something like ...boethius

    That would be to admit some responsibility. One of Trump's mottoes is deny, deny, deny. I think the U.S. was playing a game of chicken and lost.

    Now, it's possible it's only due to Trump's unpredictable personality. But I feel if this was the case there would be moaning and groaning from the neocons ...boethius

    They have for the most part turned a blind eye to whatever Trump does. This thing has not played out yet. If they think he should not have attacked then calling it off was a good thing. If the think he should have attacked, there is always tomorrow. In either case, they are reluctant to expose him as erratic and indecisive, but again, there is always tomorrow. That too would make the U.S. look weak.

    My theory I believe explains things much better.boethius

    I don't see how this explains why he went from being "cocked and loaded" to calling it off at the last minute.
  • boethius
    224
    I agree. I do not think that his decision had anything to do with what he said. I was poking holes in his claims not trying to explain his decision in terms of them. I am sure that an analysis of causalities is something done at the beginning and was discussed early on, not something that no one considered until Trump brought it up at the last minute.Fooloso4

    Yes, we definitely agree on this point. Though we can't dismiss what Trump says in terms of analytical value, nor can we dismiss the possibility that his account is exactly how it happened, it's extremely dangerous to start analysis with an unreliable account.

    My theory, that the presence of advanced SAM caused the last minute cancelling, is supported without Trump being president nor any of his words. If Obama was president the analysis would be just as sound and follow the same logic.

    Doesn't make it true (it could really be Trump is that "mindy-changy", whatever his reason was), but it's usually a good approach with respect to geopolitical events to first make de-personified analysis, what are the real relations between powers and how are those real relations changing (due to technology, trade, armed victories and defeats, etc.), and then afterwards consider to what extent personalities could guide or even radically alter outcomes. There's a bunch of reasons to approach things this way, which we can get into if there's any doubts, but I hope my theory here presents the merits of "geopolitics" as a framework.

    I don't see how this explains why he went from being "cocked and loaded" to calling it off at the last minute.Fooloso4

    Yes, this is exactly the unquestioned assumption in the Western media. Not a single journalist, as far as I know, has questioned the assumption that Trump could have destroyed those SAM sites and killed those 150 Iranians if he had wanted to without any air losses of any kind on the American side.

    In my theory, it was agreed that they need to blow up something, as that's just what they do in these situations and Trump obviously sees the logic in that (he didn't start this whole thing with Iran to look weak), but there's genuine ambiguity if it can be done without suffering any air losses of any kind. There's also ambiguity if Iranians would dare fire back at US planes with real pilots in them. So, mission is a go, planes are sent, and when the Iranian radar and SAM sites respond in a way that would likely result in American casualties the mission is canceled.

    For, the real balance of power on the ground is that Russians have been setting up advanced air defense (far more advanced than Iran had before) and certainly helping the Iranians deploy all their anti-air assets in the optimum way. The whole point of air defense is to defend the air; the Western media has gotten accustomed to the fact that for US opponent, air defense doesn't matter and has simply carried through the assumption to this case. But it does matter. If you want to go and attack a SAM battery, it is a reasonable question to ask whether that SAM battery has more than 0 percent effective chance at fighting back, as is it's entire purpose.

    The purpose of stealth plane technology is to defeat SAM batteries despite their purpose being to destroy planes, and do it with easy. But stealth is a fairly old technology at this point that the Russians have been working on defeating since whenever they first heard Americans were maybe developing it. It's possible that their system works.

    If the Russians have created an effective air defense in Iran, then pursuing the attack would likely result in American air casualties. This would be a terrible position to be in: throwing good lives away to avenge a drone loss. It's also US attacking Iran and Iran simply defending itself; so it doesn't make a good argument to go and avenge the pilots that died avenging the drone.

    Now, whatever the real sequence of events, which we may never know, geopolitical analysts around the world will make one clear conclusion: Iran got advanced air defense from Russia and suffered zero air attacks. (as you say, this could change tomorrow, if my theory is correct then it won't change, if I am wrong then the US going and flying around Iran and blowing a bunch of things up would be proof my theory is wrong.)

    As I mention in a previous comment, US went "all in" on stealth and it's simply too soon in the procurement cycle to admit it doesn't work; just using stealth planes as you would normal planes would be a PR disaster; sending in non-stealth planes when you have stealth planes would be a PR disaster.

    All this analysis is also not "in a void". The US commitment to stealth technology was highly criticized during the development and "all in" phase -- I mention above it wasn't "stupid" for the reasons I explain, but doesn't mean people didn't see this exact situation coming -- and US has been making "a big stink" about Russia selling their S system to anyone: Russia had to climb down from selling the S-400 system to Iran and only supply the "S-300 with upgrades" (though no one knows if that's anything more than changing the label from 400 to 300) to appease US complaining, and US has been threatening Turkey with sanctions for buying S-400, and there's also a diplomatic roe with India about the system. So all these facts fit my theory.

    As for what difference, if any, does Trump's personality and words change the analysis. Well, I think it fits in nicely. When Trump lies, he often let's slip relevant themes (such as accusing an opponent of something he's been doing or won't hesitate doing), so in this case perhaps "potential casualties results in mission canceled" is the right theme, just not Iranian casualties. Also, Trump understands branding very well, so he would certainly understand why revealing the stealth isn't so stealthy would be terrible for the American brand and also showing weakness is terrible for America's brand, so understanding this and being good at branding, he'd come up with a good PR move: such as "I wanted to spare Iranian lives, it's not worth it for a drone" (and just ignoring the fact you can blow things that have no people around, even if just symbolically to make the point that you can blow thing up but don't want casualties, so we blew up this radio tower or this bridge with no one on it, or both!).

    But, as mentioned above, regardless if my theory is correct, geopolitical analysts in other countries will assume there is enough probability in this theory to buy or develop advanced sam systems that can shoot down stealth aircraft (this was already happening, it will just happen faster now, and this is why you wouldn't want to create this situation if you were a US president).

    Sure, US can completely alter their conventional war fighting paradigm, but this can't be done over night; even the US military cannot replace trillions in assets like they were nothing. It takes time to develop, test, procure weapons and weapons platforms, and develop the war fighting doctrines and skill sets that go with those systems. An Empire cannot simply "lose a decade" and get em the next decade without major repercussions.

    If my theory is correct, why did this happen: stealth technology is a huge barrier to entry (in the arms supplying market) and it's incredibly profitable to perpetuate the idea it's effective even long after sophisticated enemies have invented systems that can defeat it.

    Edit: again, if this theory is correct, explains nicely why neocons are starting to move onto casual use of tactical nuclear weapons as a normal and reasonable thing to do: they've corrupted themselves into a corner, and now they have to nuke their way out.
  • fishfry
    780
    fishfry Did you write this before the report came out that Trump ordered strikes (before cancelling)?Michael

    As you can probably verify from the timestamps, I did. In fact I speculated that he'd probably "bomb a couple of oil refineries," which is probably what he was planning to do till Tucker Carlson talked him out of it. Even Trump haters have to acknowledge that this week he's the sanest person in Washington. Among the Dem 2020 candidates, only Tulsi Gabbard advocates for peace, and she's polling at around 0.3%. What's wrong with the Democrats these days?
  • Fooloso4
    995
    Even Trump haters have to acknowledge that this week he's the sanest person in Washington.fishfry

    There is nothing sane about his posturing and threats and calling for a strike and then calling it off at the last minute for still undisclosed reasons.

    Among the Dem 2020 candidates, only Tulsi Gabbard advocates for peace, and she's polling at around 0.3%. What's wrong with the Democrats these days?fishfry

    Have you forgotten or are you just ignoring the fact that Trump brought the world to this precipice by backing out of an international agreement and putting a stranglehold on Iran with his sanctions? And then he ignored Pompeo who said that the sanctions were working and decided to escalate the situation and then call it the attack. He created a crisis and now has everyone guessing what will happen next.
  • ssu
    1.5k
    Absent a ground invasion, you don't really need much integration and coordination and training (you still need enough, but not nearly as much as using these systems in the context of a ground invasion).boethius
    Air Defence needs coordination and integration right from the start. It has to detect an incoming strike, it has to coordinate it's own actions with your own aircraft (not to shoot them down) and it has to know when to attack, when to put on or shut off it's radars.

    You can rely on other radar for early warning and / or just wait until you're being bombed, then turn on the S-300/400, fire a whole bunch of missiles, turn it off and try to skedaddle or just let the visible parts of the system (radar transmitters and launch vehicles) get destroyed and replace them later.boethius
    Relying on other radars is what basically a functioning AD Network is all about. Yet that data has to be linked to you via some command structure. And if your S-300's are safely hidden in some warehouse or inside a mountain cave, then you have to get them out, prepare them for firing and get the radars working. Doesn't happen in an instant. If you then have everything ready, but just not the radar on, then as these weapon systems are big, they can be noticed and attacked. That's why the combat survivability isn't the same as with more mobile and smaller systems. Hence the need for a layered multi-system approach. Which then puts even more stress on the technical ability of your people.

    The reason I'm stressing on this is because the US military posture just made a massive commitment to stealth technology with the F-35 and various stealth drone programs.boethius
    Let's remember that the Serbians shot down an F-117 with an old relic, a SA-6. (The likely reason was that the USAF had to resort using same air corridors in the crammed Airspace. Hence when the Serbs noticed that an F-117 had flown this route, they positioned a SA-6 exactly on the route.) In an armchair debate about the weapon systems nobody would believe that a SA-6 would shoot down stealth aircraft, but so it happened.

    There never has been a golden bullet and reliance on some specific technology and nothing else is simply stupid. Countering tech with more tech isn't also the only answer. An asymmetric response is usually the most clever response: simply don't engage in a war where your enemy has the advantage.

    What is telling about this fixation on costly weapons programs is the insistence of portraying the F-35 as this wonder weapon. Also what is telling is the problem that the USAF has ideologically had with the A-10 from the start, one of the most cheapest, most usable and most effective weapon platforms. Starting from the fact that the slow aircraft was basically developed to a role to assist the Army.
  • ssu
    1.5k
    Anyway, the way now Trump has managed the narrative is beneficial to him. His hardcore supporters don't like the neocons and so the story that everybody on his political team starting from überneocon Bolton was for the strike and he decided not to do it is good for Trump.

    Yet there has been a campaign for the strike on Iran, which is discussed quite well in the following video which was released prior to the latest events. Worth listening if one has the time and is interested in the subject:

  • fishfry
    780
    Have you forgotten or are you just ignoring the fact that Trump brought the world to this precipice by backing out of an international agreement and putting a stranglehold on Iran with his sanctions?Fooloso4

    I'm perfectly well aware. I said the other day I favored Obama's Iran treaty. In my opinion a bad nuke deal is better than no nuke deal. Trump was 100% wrong on that, not to mention that showing the world that the US's word is only as good as the next election was simply a terrible thing to do.

    I have a point of view that doesn't fit into the current paradigm of two warring sides that each regard the other as not only wrong, but uniquely evil.

    My position, for the record, is that I agree with everything the left says about the right. And with everything the right says about the left. Our nation is in a very precarious position right now with few if any adults in the room. Jerry Nadler? That's your idea of a statesman?

    So yes, Trump created this mess and now he's solving the mess he created. Yes I am perfectly well aware of that.

    Thing is, I haven't heard much about Iran from the Democrats, in particular their presidential candidates. Cory Booker demanded that Biden apologize for consorting with segregationist southern Democrats (ie all of them of that era), and Biden said uh-uh no way am I going to apologize. On matters of war and peace? Crickets. If I missed one of the Dems saying something sane about foreign policy this week, I would thank you for a reference. I assume you are all familiar with Joe Biden's record on matters of war and peace. He's always been for war.

    But that is Trump's style. Blow things up then calm things down. Just like his announcement that he was going to initiate nationwide immigration raids. Got everyone hysterical, then he cancelled that order too. That's his style. Without defending it in the least -- it's one of the worst things about him -- can't the left step back and stop getting triggered and going insane with anger every time he plays the same game? When will the left wise up?

    Trump thrives on chaos. That doesn't mean YOU need to.

    For the record, (1) My vote doesn't count, because I live in California, which will go strongly for any Dem candidate. But (2) to the extent that I can at least have an opinion, if not an actual vote, I would love to be able to vote for a Dem candidate. I don't see any besides Tulsi. Even Marianne Williamson is better that the rest of this crowd.

    Bill Maher came out for Oprah. I am not alone in my low estimation of the crop of currently announced Democratic hopefuls.

    In 2016 I favored Jim Webb in the Dem primary. If you know who he is you'll better understand my politics. And if you remember how he did (not very well) you'll appreciate my disenchantment with the state of the Democratic party.

    Just because I don't experience the visceral hate and anger and fear the left has regarding Trump; please don't make the mistake that I'm not painfully aware of all his many faults.
  • boethius
    224
    Air Defence needs coordination and integration right from the start. It has to detect an incoming strike, it has to coordinate it's own actions with your own aircraft (not to shoot them down) and it has to know when to attack, when to put on or shut off it's radars.ssu

    Yes, that's why I say you still need "enough". My point was simply that in the context of a ground invasion you need significantly more. If you want me to elaborate on why exactly I can do so, but I was meaning for this to be obvious.

    Relying on other radars is what basically a functioning AD Network is all about. Yet that data has to be linked to you via some command structure. And if your S-300's are safely hidden in some warehouse or inside a mountain cave, then you have to get them out, prepare them for firing and get the radars working. Doesn't happen in an instant.ssu

    These systems wouldn't be all in some sort of storage. Some would, others would be camouflaged as well as have decoys. The Russians have been playing hide and seek with the Americans for decades, I assume they can hide these systems well enough. Now, once they fire they can be seen from space and targeted, but if a launch truck fires all it's missiles, the loss of the truck is fairly acceptable and can be replaced (why in my first comment focused on resupply from the Caspian so much).

    That's why the combat survivability isn't the same as with more mobile and smaller systems. Hence the need for a layered multi-system approach. Which then puts even more stress on the technical ability of your people.ssu

    Yes, but I'm assuming the Iranians ( / Russians telling them what to do) have set up these multiple layers.

    Also, keep in mind that the biggest missiles in the S-400 system are for a pretty impressive range of up to 400 Km. So, some of these missiles can be kept 200 kilometers from the border / outer air-defense perimeter and still cover 200 km outwards. Some missiles can be at the border and target support air-craft (tankers, AEW&C, bombers wanting to fire various air-to-ground missiles) up to 400Km. These missiles can also cover an aircraft carrier -- air-craft carriers are launching planes all the time and are not themselves very stealthy, so you can just keep firing these missiles in the area of an aircraft carrier which at a minimum is highly disruptive and also doesn't involve trying to hit the carrier itself, which the US has said would treat as a nuclear escalation; taking pot-shots at planes around the carrier seems fair game (so, even in the current context, Russians probably won't sell missiles that can hit carriers at super long ranges to anyone).

    Again, if these missiles work, this is incredibly disruptive to the the entire US war fighting framework, obviously that's the goal.

    So, you stay out of range, but that significantly reduces effectiveness: time between sorties, time in / over combat, payloads reduced, and the potential need to outrun any AA missiles will burn more fuel further limiting range.

    Of course, the US can change equipment, methods and tactics, such as swarms of killer drones controlled by some sort of skynet. However, that can't be done overnight, so there's significant geopolitical implications if we are currently witnessing an inversion in the stealth / carrier system vs AA systems (that are proliferating) hard power relations.

    Anyway, the way now Trump has managed the narrative is beneficial to him. His hardcore supporters don't like the neocons and so the story that everybody on his political team starting from überneocon Bolton was for the strike and he decided not to do it is good for Trump.ssu

    Yes, in terms of short term political public relations, we can be fairly confident Trump will spin this to his base in an extremely pleasing manner to them. I have no argument here.
  • Fooloso4
    995
    So yes, Trump created this mess and now he's solving the mess he created.fishfry

    There is no evidence that he is solving the mess he created. Is calling off an attack at the last minute your idea of solving the mess?

    Thing is, I haven't heard much about Iran from the Democrats, in particular their presidential candidates.fishfry

    There is no telling what the situation will be if and when one of the Democratic candidates wins. I would think that most would favor returning to the agreement, but that might already be too late. I would also think that they would be in favor of loosening sanctions and negotiating. But that is contrary to what Trump is doing and so empty talk since there is nothing they can do about it now.

    Cory Booker demanded that Biden apologize ...fishfry

    Completely irrelevant.

    But that is Trump's style. Blow things up then calm things down.fishfry

    Blow things up, blame someone else, claim that only he can fix it, and then claim that he has fixed it.

    Just like his announcement that he was going to initiate nationwide immigration raids. Got everyone hysterical, then he cancelled that order too. That's his style.fishfry

    Creating fear and uncertainty is not a "style".

    can't the left step back and stop getting triggered and going insane with anger every time he plays the same game?fishfry

    The problem is no one knows when he will actually carry out one of his threats.

    Trump thrives on chaos. That doesn't mean YOU need to.fishfry

    It is not simply a matter of him thriving on chaos, he creates chaos. It has real consequences that are not mitigated by pretending that it doesn't.
  • boethius
    224
    "Let's make Iran great again"BBC citing Trump
  • boethius
    224
    ‘If it was up to [John Bolton], he'd take on the whole world’ — Trump

    Maybe the first indication of a prediction (I made a couple of days ago) that Trump will throw Bolton and Pompeo under the bus for failing to defeat Iran, and brought in the most extreme neocons knowing in advance a war with Iran was foolish (because one of their general predecessors managed to at least explain this to him before leaving). Stay tuned for further confirmation at the next rally or so.
  • ssu
    1.5k
    Also, keep in mind that the biggest missiles in the S-400 system are for a pretty impressive range of up to 400 Km.boethius
    Does Iran have the S-400?

    What I know is that a few batteries of S-300PMU2's were sold there, and it has some modern Tor mobile SAM launchers. Other systems are older or Iranian copies of older systems (SA-2, SA-5). Anyway, what's more interesting is the capability that Iran has in the offensive realm. I think they do want to think asymmetrically and have some quite surprising concepts for littoral warfare. Call it thinking out of the box. Just take the example of these Bavar-2 ship/aeroplanes!



    Russians probably won't sell missiles that can hit carriers at super long ranges to anyoneboethius
    Nope, That's what the Chinese sell. Or at least the Iranians brag that they do have similar technology as the Chinese.



    In 2009, it became clear that China had developed a mobile medium-range ballistic missile called the DF-21D designed to sink ships over 900 miles away. This then-nascent technical achievement gave rise to a still-ongoing debate over the survivability of the U.S.’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, as the DF-21D outranged the strike planes serving on carrier decks. This further compelled the U.S. Navy to introduce anti-ballistic missile capability to its destroyers and cruisers in the form of the SM-3 missile.

    However, just two years later Iran announced it too had already developed an anti-ship ballistic missile. Tehran is infamous for habitually exaggerating or fabricating claims about its military technology—but in 2013 footage of an apparently successful missile test was released, and by 2014 U.S. intelligence briefings confirmed the missile’s deployment.

    A 2014 CSIS assessment concludes that the rocket on average will fall within a few dozen meters of the target, and that the Khalij Fars has likely entered service with operational IRGCN units.
  • boethius
    224
    Does Iran have the S-400?ssu

    We don't know exactly what the Russians have supplied neither what the extent of their help is. As you've pointed out, optimizing the network of existing radars, command and control, and missiles goes a long way as well.

    My comments about the 400km range were meant to be more general comment about these systems; just that the larger the missile the further it can be from harm as well as performing rolls adjacent to defending incoming attacks. Russia may not have supplied the largest missiles to Iran, but is selling the whole S-400 package to China, India, and even Turkey (also of geopolitical import).

    Anyway, what's more interesting is the capability that Iran has in the offensive realm. I think they do want to think asymmetrically and have some quite surprising concepts for littoral warfare. Call it thinking out of the box. Just take the example of these Bavar-2 ship/aeroplanes!ssu

    Yes, if an pure air war would be too costly to the Americans (how many losses would be "too costly" is of course up for debate) and / or not accomplish the goal of pushing Iran into a failed state or at least giving them a good spanking, then ground invasion solves the air-war-of-attrition problem.

    If you don't want Iran covering the straight with anti-ship missiles then you need to take the whole coast. Iran has been doing what it can to prepare, how effective these tactics will be is anyone's guess but I think it's difficult to expect zero losses in taking the coast. Then there's a lot of mountains.

    Take all this together, and I feel the opinion of the chairman of the joint's chief echoes the theory I'm defending here: "If you want to really stop Iran’s nuclear program, that immediately gets you to regime change, which is an enormous undertaking." There's no mention of the potential of just bombing them like in Libya. Of course, it might not be mentioned precisely because they want Iran and Russia to think that they think Iran's Russian anti-air is more effective than it is to hide their real capacity and all out air-war plan.

    Nope, That's what the Chinese sell. Or at least the Iranians brag that they do have similar technology as the Chinese.ssu

    Here I think the US really can be confident that China, much less Iran, if far behind Russia in the rocket technology required to penetrate the carrier group missile-defense systems.

    What Russia is doing is moving towards a world where "sure, you have carriers no one will touch, but they're filled with planes you can't use (without large losses)".

    The problem this creates for the neocons is that "dominating the air" part of the galactic spectrum is supposed to allow bombing wars to be fought with basically zero causalities and land-wars fought with a lot less casualties. If the US starts experiencing a lot of air (human) losses, American public will probably lose taste for these sorts of wars too.

    Well, they've predicted that happening and the solution is drones, but it's unclear at the moment if you can field a fully drone army in the air, much less land. To attack a sophisticated enemy with only predator drones and the like, they need to be essentially fully autonomous due to the need for radio silence and facing jamming anyways. At the moment it maybe very easy to get these systems to fire at decoys for instance; ok, so you send more, but how many more is acceptable.

    The purpose of the F-35 is to continue to be able to pummel small naughty states from the air while drone warfare is perfected, then the F-35 transitions to the roll of some sort of drone shepherd (this is my reading of the neocons anyway). If my theory is correct, the US now has a tool missing in the ol' pummeling belt.
  • ssu
    1.5k
    Here I think the US really can be confident that China, much less Iran, if far behind Russia in the rocket technology required to penetrate the carrier group missile-defense systems.boethius
    I think the real threat is more likely the age old enemy that simply is forgotten: mines and the diesel submarine. During the Falklands war Argentine subs got to the point to attack the British carriers… and their torpedoes went haywire. The Argentinians blamed sabotage, others blamed incompetence of the Argentinians. But of course history and the perception of naval warfare would be different, because losing even one aircraft carrier would have meant that the British fleet would have had to sail back. And there are numerous times in excersizes when submarines have snuck into the perimeter of the carrier battle group and sunk the aircraft carrier.

    All told, since the early 1980s, U.S. and British carriers have been sunk at least 14 times in so-called “free play” war games meant to simulate real battle, according to think tanks, foreign navies and press accounts. The exact total is unknown because the Navy classifies exercise reports.
    (See Special Report : Aircraft carriers, championed by Trump, are vulnerable to attack)

    Yet as the last action in pure naval combat from a submarine has been the sinking of General Belgrano, a WW2 era light cruiser over 30 years ago, the debate around the threat has been diminished.

    Iran has 39 submarines (7 submarines and 32 midget submarines armed with torpedoes, missiles and mines). They aren't top of the notch, but one submarine totally silent at the right place is all you need.
  • boethius
    224
    I think the real threat is more likely the age old enemy that simply is forgotten: mines and the diesel submarine.ssu

    Mines are not a big threat in the middle of the ocean. For instance, Iran would place a lot of mines around potential landing sites, but this wouldn't threaten a carrier.

    As for subs and torpedoes, the US has very significant anti-submarine technologies. That carriers are sunk in war games isn't really insightful if we can't compare to how many times they aren't sunk in such games as well as how good the submarines were.

    However, in terms of geopolitics, anti-air is also very different than sinking the carrier. For, there are many cases where the US is "punishing" a country, like blowing up a pharmaceutical factory or something; in such disputes, sinking a carrier is simply far outside the realm of reason even if you could do it.

    It's also important to keep in mind, short of nuclear torpedoes, you'd need to hit the carrier a lot of times to actually sink it. So on the chance your sub avoids detection, and fires some torpedoes, and on the chance these torpedoes avoid whatever counter measures the carrier group has, and on the chance your German supplied torpedoes actually explode (instead of not exploding as the Argentinians experienced), you may still not do major damage to the carrier much less sink it. It will disrupted, potentially disabled, but will be replaced by another carrier. However, your submarine is definitely sunk at this point.

    Which brings up an important difference, that it's possible to re-supply anti-air, whereas you can't effectively resupply whole submarines, much less train new crews. This goes for pretty much all navy assets.

    And, in these altercations, it's the US that decides to bomb or not, and exactly when to bomb. So even if there was some non-zero probability an Iranian sub could sneak up to and launch torpedoes at a carrier ... well the US can just put in some extra effort beforehand to make sure they find the Iranian subs first and sink them. Diesel subs need to surface; maybe the US loses track of them sometimes, but I would bet they can reacquire them, especially if they plan to bomb the country the sub belongs to.

    Effective anti-air on the other hand, more-so when resupply is feasible, incurs an unavoidable cost to air assets. So the question becomes how much of a cost to achieve the objective, and if the cost involves lives then the US population is forced to think of whether the imperial goal at play is worth these lives; US population invariably figures out the answer is no, because the average American sees no benefit from these imperial skirmishes (they don't live in a world where of course the vast scope of the Empire is required to afford lavish luxuries like health care for everyone).
  • ssu
    1.5k
    Mines are not a big threat in the middle of the ocean.boethius
    The Red Sea, The Persian Gulf and the Straight of Hormuz aren't wide spaces. An Aircraft carrier on the Red Sea is like in a bathtub.

    That carriers are sunk in war games isn't really insightful if we can't compare to how many times they aren't sunk in such games as well as how good the submarines were.boethius
    Not much is insightful when there hasn't been a major naval exchange for a long, long time.

    It's also important to keep in mind, short of nuclear torpedoes, you'd need to hit the carrier a lot of times to actually sink it.boethius
    Modern torpedoes slice a cruiser or a destroyer into two parts, hence a hit to bigger ship would Still be very damaging. And aircraft carriers are built for speed, they aren't armoured like old battleships. Again some issues have changed from WW2.

    US population invariably figures out the answer is no, because the average American sees no benefit from these imperial skirmishesboethius
    And this is the reason that once you are deemed by the neocons or the Washington "Blob", the Foreign Policy Apparatus, to be a rogue state, it's indeed totally rational to procure a nuclear deterrent. With a functioning nuclear deterrent the US will likely not attack you. Hence Iran is on the firing line because it hasn't got what Pakistan and North Korea have.
  • boethius
    224
    The Red Sea, The Persian Gulf and the Straight of Hormuz aren't wide spaces. An Aircraft carrier on the Red Sea is like in a bathtub.ssu

    Yes, certainly the straight of Hormuz can be mined but also be covered by anti-ship missiles, so the mine problem would be more an post-war-hazard/nuisance, after a land invasion has already succeeded (in taking the coast at least). Doesn't really stop a bombing campaign is my main point about mines.

    Modern torpedoes slice a cruiser or a destroyer into two parts, hence a hit to bigger ship would Still be very damaging. And aircraft carriers are built for speed, they aren't armoured like old battleships. Again some issues have changed from WW2.ssu

    Yes, the best and biggest torpedoes might have a good chance at sinking a carrier with one hit. However, smaller nations with smaller and less accurate torpedoes; it could take a bunch just to disable it. A too small torpedo exploding under the carrier may do no damage at all. Presumably, the carriers are structurally optimized to take torpedo hits as best as they can.

    My basic point is that even with the bust sub out there and the best crew, there's room for failure and high probability of being sunk after firing said torpedoes. As the quality of the sub, torpedoes and crew decreases, I'd wager chance of success evaporates quickly.

    There's also the usual operational problem of using subs, in that if they really are perfectly positioned and totally silent and hidden, they could be right next to the carrier and not realize the war has started.

    But the submarine example exemplifies this geopolitical shit in terms of hard power; assuming my theory is correct that the US cancelled the attack due to unacceptable expected losses, which is the US military is excellent at finding and destroying large assets like a submarine or an airfield. If to be competitive in the air you need an airfield, well it's hard to compete if your airfield and all you planes have been blown up. If to be competitive in the sea you need submarines, the cost is very high and the learning curve to operate submarines is likewise incredibly high.

    Crucially, for this discussion, if you can't see stealth aircraft, your planes and your AA missiles won't be very useful.

    A modular antimissile system that is a threat to stealth, that can be easily deployed effectively (easy compared to submarines), and can be acquired now that the Russins are selling it, changes the geopolitics of the American "stick".

    And this is the reason that once you are deemed by the neocons or the Washington "Blob", the Foreign Policy Apparatus, to be a rogue state, it's indeed totally rational to procure a nuclear deterrent. With a functioning nuclear deterrent the US will likely not attack you. Hence Iran is on the firing line because it hasn't got what Pakistan and North Korea have.ssu

    Yes, this has been the case, but we may have seen a major change during the course of this thread.

    With effective anti-air available, it becomes possible for states targeted by the US to accomplish a second way of the "Finnish strategy" vis-a-vis the USSR, which was to have a credible enough conventional defense that the cost of invasion (or being bombed into a failed state, transposing to the US) continually outweighs the benefits.

    Without effective anti-air, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya invasion/bombings demonstrated that there's essentially zero competition, as you say, only nuclear weapons would have been a deterrent. What we have seen over the past couple of days is potentially the first conventional deterrent to a US desire to bomb something.

    The most recent news also fits with my theory here, as apparently there was a cyber attack on anti-air computer systems. If stealth simply works great and allows penetration of enemy air-defense systems and blowing up said systems with relative ease, then there would simply be no reason to burn cyber assets.

    Presumably, these cyber weapons were used because they were needed to minimize risk to the fighter/bombers, and so again, if the hacking failed to shut down these systems (or enough of them), then the mission would presumably be much more likely to be canceled due to higher expected casualties to avenge a drone -- so this new information fits the theory that "expected US casualties was the cause of canceling the strike" rather than suddenly glancing up from an angry birds session and asking if it's occurred to anyone to find out if Iranians could die in this whole warry-fighty thing that seems to be going on. (it also fits Trump's bully personality to claim that the cyber attack in itself was some sort of retaliation, which is just preposterous; classic bully delusionalism of backing away from a fight as soon as there's any risk and then repeating "totally showed that idiot who's boss" based on some delusional reconstruction of events)
  • Baden
    8.4k


    Your theory fits the facts we know better than any alternative I've heard. Unless Baldrick/Trump's cunning Iran strategy was to end up looking like a weak flip flopper, there must have been a very serious counterweight to bombing other than his beautiful soul (which has heretofore not made its presence strongly felt on the domestic or foreign front).
  • boethius
    224


    Yes, it almost seems obvious now, though my first post was before the drone hit and this launching/cancelling op, so that events unfolded according to the theory (there would be no bombing) in real time is pretty strong evidence.

    Of course, Trump didn't need to tell us about the launchy-cancelly event ... and, I actually thought I was exaggerating (a bit) that "Trump would just tell us as early as next week" but it turns out I undersold myself as he started confirming the theory essentially the very next morning.

    What's amazing is that no amount of harm to the empire has or likely could -- nor do we even thinks warrants discussion anymore -- result in Republicans impeaching Trump.
  • ernestm
    629
    Well thanks for the long and thoughtful message. It doesn't actually address my point at all. I was saying that the Iranians objected to the US arms sales, and now they've been called off, I don't expect much more hostility from Iran. The rest is rather incidental. What surprises me is that no one looks beyond Trump as an explanation.

    Khomeni's been there a long time. To him, Trump's a blip. But arming Iran's neighbors is a major problem. It helps to look at it from their viewpoint.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    I certainly hope the Russians sold S-400's to the Iranians. The whole war on Iran strikes me as lunacy. One can imagine the intensification of the war on terror instilled in the minds of would-be terrorists in the future.
  • boethius
    224
    I certainly hope the Russians sold S-400's to the Iranians.Wallows

    Iran purchased the S-400, but then the West complained and Russia apparently "down-graded the system". We don't know how much, but Russia is highly motivated to deter a US war on Iran and highly motivated to demonstrate their technology works if there is a war.

    However, on the effectiveness of the S-400 system, other interesting facts in the news today.

    Washington and its allies have urged fellow NATO member Ankara not to install the S-400 system, saying that would let the technology learn how to recognize the F-35s, which are built to avoid tracking by enemy radars and heat sensors.Reuters

    And also from the same article:

    So many of us have tried to dissuade TurkeyKay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. ambassador to NATO

    Though I have no doubt Turkey flying around F-35's around a S-400 system is going to vastly improve the S-400's ability to track the F-35, what's left out is the obvious implication that S-400 has the technical capacity to track F-35s already; it's just a question of signal processing which we can be pretty sure Russia has been doing it's best at already with data and numerical models it already has. And therefore, we can basically conclude from NATO's own statements that F-35 is vulnerable to the S-300/400 system.

    We can also make the obvious conclusion that in any engagement with the F-35, the S-400 system is also going to be doing this "learning" (it's more difficult than cross checking an F-35 known flight path with S-400 signal data, but doable).

    Why this is so significant is that the F-35 is both very early in it's life-cycle but also too late to change or replace and also "dope" expensive (dope in the sense of being the largest acquisition in the history of acquisitions). The F-35 makes significant sacrifices in essentially everything -- cruise-speed, top-speed, turn speed, climb speed, range, fuel efficiency, ordinance capacity, jamming capacity, maintenance complexity -- in order to have a "cheap" multi-roll stealthy plane. If you're in a stealth plane that's being tracked and targeted ... well, you're gonna want all these other characteristics planes are capable of having. (It's very different to the F-22, which has stealth "on-top" of being an arguably very good plane; maybe it was very expensive to have this stealth "on-top" ... and so not enough were built ... but of the ones that were built, you still have good equipment even in situations where stealth is not so useful).

    Now, all these arguments against the F-35 have been made since the program was public, and criticism of the program did lead to some changes -- like no longer consistently awarding 85% of the "success fees" based on "likeability of the sales-rep" rather than parameters involving success -- what I'm arguing in this thread is that these latest Iran-US "tensions" are strong indications that all these arguments against the F-35 have come to pass.
  • boethius
    224
    [...] Trump will throw Bolton and Pompeo under the bus for failing to defeat Iran, and brought in the most extreme neocons knowing in advance a war with Iran was foolish (because one of their general predecessors managed to at least explain this to him before leaving). Stay tuned for further confirmation at the next rally or so.boethius

    Have been pretty busy with work travels ... but can't let it slide that as I predicted 3 months ago, Trump threw Bolton under the bus.

    Followup prediction, this is the process of normalizing relations; i.e. abandoning the Bolton policy of maximum pressure on EU to not trade with Iran, (in other words, stop trying to prevent EU fulfilling the Iran deal). That Iran is mostly out of the news cycle for a while was just warm up to quietly reversing policy. Firing Bolton is the signal the policy is in fact reversing now.

    Of course, prediction that Trump will explain Bolton's failure at one of his rallies still stands; Iran will come up again as a hot topic in the election cycle, and Trump will burn Bolton for failure in that moment (that he gave Bolton some leeway on his crazy ideas, and Bolton couldn't deliver).
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k
    Politics, no matter where it starts, whether in Iran or the US, always ends in war. I just hope to live somewhere in the middle between these two points.
  • boethius
    224
    Politics, no matter where it starts, whether in Iran or the US, always ends in war. I just hope to live somewhere in the middle between these two points.TheMadFool

    This is simply not true. Politics usually ends with larger political units; granted, often the direct consequence of wars along the way (but not always), but politics then continues after that point. City states in Europe would fight with their city state neighbors all the time, now nobody conceives of politics between Venice and Milan being settled by fisty cuffs.

    As for Iran, the Neocons have been painting war with Iran as essentially fait accomplie for decades, just a question of when not if, but the reality may simply be that there's no reasonable war plan with Iran, and signing the Iran deal makes it an order of magnitude harder as no ally would come along for the ride and the US would be mocked at home and abroad for going to war to enforce a deal that was torn up for no good reason and no reasonable alternative plan. The meme template would be "US: sign this deal; Iran: ok; US: haha no deal! Iran: ok; US: This means war! now we're gonna make you live by the deal whether you like it not; Iran: ok, come at me bro (smacks down drone)".

    This is exactly why the Neocons complained and moaned (and writhed on the floor) so much and so loudly when Obama negotiated the deal; it does effectively tie the hands of future administrations, regardless of staying in the deal or not; even putting the most Neocons of Neocons in charge of war policy was not able to reverse it.
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k
    This is simply not true.boethius

    What isn't true? Your post is filled with political events.
  • boethius
    224
    What isn't true? Your post is filled with political events.TheMadFool

    I directly quoted you:

    Politics, no matter where it starts, whether in Iran or the US, always ends in war.TheMadFool

    Your statement here is not "politics is filled with events", but "politics always ends in war".

    The history of politics so far is building larger and larger political units where wars between internal members (cities in Italy, or countries in the EU) becomes increasingly unlikely.

    Now, I'm not saying here all wars will eventually go away, just that "politics always ends in war" we can observe not to be true: lot's of political relations don't end in war; some countries, not to speak of cities within those countries, have not had a war in a very, very long time and yet have been doing politics with many other countries all this time.

    Now, if your point is that as a general rule "if we wait long enough there will eventually be a war somewhere", ok sure, probably, but that doesn't inform us whether war between Iran and US is likely or unlikely any time soon, which is the subject here.
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k

    :ok:
    My remarks were meant as more of an opinion than a well considered verdict. I just have a very low opinion of politics, that's all.
  • boethius
    224


    Yeah, I get the pessimism. Even if war with Iran is avoided, there's a genocide in Yemen as we speak, not to mention looming global ecological catastrophe.

    However, turning pessimism into fatalism seals our fate. If it we have duty to fight for justice when the odds are good, it is no less a duty when the odds are bad; but there needs to be some odds, if the result is guaranteed then duty dissolves in it.
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